Phoenixville School District & MCCC Launch College Pathway Academy

David Rosati and Chase Paugh (right) wait to perform simulated surgery on a bladder during the first day of the PAHS/MCCC College Pathway Academy for Health Professions program. Photo by J. Finneran

Thanks to a new early college program, a dozen junior and seniors from the Phoenixville Area High School (PAHS) began life as dually enrolled students at Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) in Pottstown on the morning of Wednesday Sept. 18. The program, known as College Pathway Academy for Health Professions, will allow students to earn college credit in health science fields while also working toward their high school diplomas.

“You are trend setters,” MCCC’s Steady Moono told the students as he welcomed them to the campus he oversees as Chief Administrative Officer. “We are very excited to have you here because you are the inaugural class. What this means is that you are setting the way for generations of students who are going to do the things that you will be doing throughout the year.”

Moono advised the students to really take advantage of what it is the dual enrollment program entails.

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“You have the opportunities to not only explore, but to cement your professional interests… …not only are you exploring and discovering and coming to conclusions relative to your professional aspirations, but you are also at the same time earning your high school credits and your college credits, and I think that is really cool.”

Through the new initiative, not only will students be able to earn up to 24 MCCC credits, they also will have the opportunity to learn on site at Phoenixville Hospital and through community service activities.

Dr. Regina Palubinsky is the Assistant Superintendent at PAHS, and she was on hand for the arrival of the students at MCCC. While PAHS has had a different dual enrollment program in place with MCCC since 2007, Dr. Palubinsky stated that this new initiative is much more targeted in its scope.

“Our initial dual enrollment partnership was a singlet course opportunity…. …the difference with this partnership is that it is really contextualized around a program (and will) allow students to accumulate and apply the credits to a health career pathway.”

According to information provided by MCCC, the courses being offered include Safety and First Aid, Careers in Health Care, Medical Law & Ethics for Health Professionals, Medical Terminology, Intro to Psychology, Human Development, Strategies for College Success, and Composition I/II. Further, the courses will be taught by the college’s faculty and/or by PAHS teachers who are, for the purposes of this program, treated as adjunct college instructors.

“I think this is an awesome opportunity for students who want to go into the health care field because this is getting them a jump start,” said PAHS student counselor John Shackleford, who has been assigned as the counselor to the program. “The fact that it is close by is nice, plus they also get all of the support of being considered college students too. We are really excited about this.”

“I know that we have had a long history of partnerships with Montco and they have always been so inclusive of our students. We are happy to add another program that our students can very specifically benefit from,” added PAHS Assistant Principal Stephanie Sturdivant.

While touring the campus, the students visited the library, the Student Success Center, the student bookstore, and different labs and classrooms. They also met with different professors and medical professionals who provided insight and encouragement.

The most exciting portion of the tour involved the activities and simulations within the Health Careers Suite. By preforming tasks such as mending injuries to ‘patients’ (hot dogs) with staples, viewing x-rays, taking one another’s temperatures with temporal thermometers and ‘scrubbing in’ for surgery, students had their first taste of what is to come from the program.

“Stapling the hot dog (was) probably the coolest thing we did today,” said junior Evan Lantrip, who entered into the program so that he could pursue a health occupation such as nursing.

Lantrip’s opinion was echoed by senior Chase Paugh, who interests include firefighting and a possible career in nursing.

“The most interesting part was the practical application of using the staples on the hot dog, and it is exciting to come in and get a feel of what college life is like.”

For Junior David Rosati, discovering that x-ray technology can be used for more than looking at injuries was his top lesson learned.

“It was interesting to see how the sponges they use have the blue stripes on them so (the x-rays) can let you know if they were left in the body after surgery.”

MCCC Director of Dual Enrollment Initiatives Cheryl Taylor-Mearhoff shared her thoughts on how the past dual enrollment successes between the PAHS and MCCC have paved the way for this new program.

“It’s all based on relationships, and we have great support at Phoenixville from top administration all the way through to the parents. We have meetings with the parents to tell them about the programs and every time we meet with them they want more. So there is a lot of enthusiasm, and when you get all of that positive energy together great things can happen.”

For more information on this dual enrollment program, contact Director of Dual Enrollment Initiatives Cheryl Taylor-Mearhoff at dualenroll@mc3.edu.